Sacramento, CA — Yesterday, CASE, the union representing attorneys and administrative law judges working in California’s executive branch, secured a court order compelling arbitration of grievances over the state’s “return to the office” policies. At several state agencies, including CalPERS, SCO, FTB, CEC, DIR, CalSTRS, CalTrans, CalVET, DDS, and others, managers have been requiring state workers to return for specified days-per-week into the office. These requirements on the work force have been arbitrary and not related to any operational need of the agencies.
Telework has proven an efficient and effective tool for managing the state’s workforce. Many conservatives throughout the state are seeing their investment properties and businesses in city centers take a hit as workers aren’t tied to their office chairs anymore. This belief among the wealthy that teleworkers should be forced back to the office is pervading many work places. While it is still official policy of the State to encourage and support telework, the influence of the wealthy on the management of these agencies is pushing them towards arbitrary return-to-work plans.
So far, the State acting through CalHR has supported the arbitrary return-to-office decisions. This lawsuit will now allow CASE to bring their grievance to the arbitration process, and take it out of the hands of self-interested CalHR management. It is very likely that CASE will succeed. However, any decision will likely only benefit the represented attorneys and judges– not state workers in general who are under different contract terms.